Neal Foster directs Horrible Histories – Terrible Tudors, which will make its West End première at the Garrick Theatre this summer.
This brand-new production marks the company’s tenth year in the West End, which happily coincides with the Birmingham Stage Company’s 30th anniversary. The company has recently been nominated for an Olivier Award for its production of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy.
Horrible Histories – Terrible Tudors is directed by Neal Foster, designed by Jacqueline Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, music by Matthew Scott, sound by Nick Sagar, with choreography by Kenn Oldfield.
Horrible Histories – Terrible Tudors opens at the Garrick Theatre on 2 August, with previews from 28 July and runs until 2 September.
Horrible Histories – Terrible Tudors will premiere in the West End this summer, what can you tell us about the show?
It’s a fabulously fun journey through over a hundred years of one family ruling England. We’ve just experienced the effects of one man ruling the country for a couple of years – so imagine if Boris Johnson’s family picked up where he left off and we didn’t have any choice about it for the next century. That’s sort of what it was like living under the Tudors – except you could have your head chopped off or be burnt at the stake!
Why do you think young audiences adore Horrible Histories so much?
Terry Deary is the genius behind Horrible Histories, who wrote all the books, and together we have created the Terrible Tudors show. Horrible Histories has a very irreverent take on our ruling class and revels in the weird, wacky, disgusting, rude and silly things have happened over the ages. It’s exactly the sort of stories that people find so exciting.
You’ve been directing shows like this for a while now, how do you approach a new one to keep it feeling fresh?
It totally depends on the cast. We’ve been producing HH shows for seventeen years and in all that time we’ve only found about thirty actors who can properly perform the style. Some of the actors have been with us from the beginning, like Ben Martin and others, like Emma Swan, joined us for the first time last year. So putting Ben and Emma together at the Garrick is how we keep refreshing the shows to make sure they retain their dramatic thrill.
This will be the company’s tenth year in the West End, what does it mean to you to see your work so appreciated by audiences?
We never take our audiences for granted. I’ve been touring this show myself around the country and I’m surprised how nervous I get before each performance. Every time you walk onto the stage it’s a new experience because of the audience and I think it’s our dedication to ensuring the high quality of the productions that has made the shows so popular.
Is there anything you find challenging about directing shows for young audiences?
When adults get bored in theatres, they go to sleep. Children don’t understand that convention, so they start talking or going to the toilet. It’s always our aim to keep their attention for the entire show. It’s become common to hear people saying children can’t concentrate anymore but it’s rubbish. Some of our shows last longer than two hours and the children are glued to the stage. But you have to make sure you are delivering every single moment in a way that grips them.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors?
If you want to meet one of the most extraordinary and dangerous families in history, from the safety of a theatre seat, this is the show for you!